Fields: I Know More Religion Than The Religious

Guest Columnist

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, the most prestigious institution studying public attitudes on religion, has published a survey covering who knows the most about religion.

There were 32 multiple choice questions about religion.  The survey, found here, was heavily weighted to Christianity and Judaism with numerous questions about the Old and New Testaments. There were a few questions about Mormonism, Buddhism, Islam and the Hinduism.

Guess who knew the most? Catholics, Evangelicals, Mormons, Jews?

Wrong.  It was Atheists…like me!

I figured the percentages from the survey.  Here is what I came up with:

On average Atheists got 65% right.  Jews got 64% right.  White Evangelicals got only a 55%.  Pulling up the rear were Black Protestants scoring 42% and Hispanic Catholics with a paltry 36%.  

Even when questions were limited to the Bible, Atheist came in a close third behind White Evangelicals and Mormons.

Considering that Blacks and Hispanics have the highest rate of Church attendance and belief in a god (faith) the results might, at first blush, seem counterintuitive.

Only when you get into analyzing religion do you realize that knowing about religion and being religious, not only have little in common but, may actually be pulling in opposite directions.

Religious fervor is about faith, which is pretty much the same thing as a “hunch. 

In criminal law there is a legal principle called a “hunch.  It’s when the police have feeling about something, but cannot articulate facts to support the feeling. 

To restrain someone, they must continue the investigation and be able to articulate facts to rise to a level of “reasonable suspicion.

To arrest someone, more facts are required to reach “probable cause

To convict someone, they must put together evidence that the proof is “beyond a reasonable doubt.

Science can also begin with a “hunch.  But it requires testing, more testing, retesting and re-retesting to confirm a belief.

But not so with the believers in the supernatural.

The religious “hunch–aka “faith–is the end of the inquiry.

It starts with the final conclusion, which is that there is an all-powerful god. It replaces the search for the truth with fervor.  Contrary questions or thought are unacceptable.

One needs look no further than’s mailbox.  Rather than answer the questions that I have raised, most would prefer to call me names and demand my voice silenced.

I threaten “faith because I ask questions and demand a truthful inquiry. Magical thinkers cannot honestly respond to this line of thought.

Magical thinking, i.e. religious faith, is a free pass to ignorance.

All you have to do is substitute fervor for knowledge.  You can get the lowest score in the subject that matters to you most and still be revered by your kind.

The Pew survey confirms this.

30 Responses to “Fields: I Know More Religion Than The Religious”

  1. Mister Courthouse says:

    Mr. Fields’ pomposity knows no end. He is the smartest not only in the courthouse but also in the church and synagogue, temple and mosque.
    We are all lucky to have his pearls of wisdom.

  2. sam fields says:

    Dear Mr. Courthouse,
    You finally got it right!!!!

  3. Some Thoughts On Sam says:

    Whoever Mr. Courthouse is, he is being too hard on Sam. I know that Sam is often very taken by what he thinks is the sheer brilliance of his thoughts.
    That said, I believe Sam has summed up his position very well and put together a sensible argument. What he dismisses so lightly is that one can get comfort from faith. The belief that there is a higher power gives many of us a reason to exist.
    Sam gets comfort from his believe in supposed rationality.
    Unfortunately, Sam is not willing to allow people of faith the comfort of their beliefs.

  4. dk says:

    jewish atheists rock!!!

  5. Buddy says:


    Today’s Sun-Sentinel poll:

    What do you think?
    Do atheists know more about God than people who practice their religion?

    No way. Atheists know nothing about any religion, they don’t believe in anything, they just believe in themselves. What could they know about God? (211 responses)


    Absolutely. Unlike people who might blindly follow a religion, atheists do their homework, they find out about religions, and decide for themselves what’s best. They know more about religion than you think. (639 responses)


    850 total responses

    (Results not scientific)

  6. mustbecrazy says:

    I have to admit that I cannot find a reason to “believe”. I have tried. Done my research and all that. Grew up going to Sunday school, even belonged to the Methodist Youth Fellowship. I sent my kids to christian school for a while, thought I’d let them make up their own minds on the subject rather than overtly influence them one way or the other. Yet, I find no comfort in blind faith. I do not need a “higher power” as my reason to exist. My children are reason enough, raising them to be good people with compassion for others does not require a bible, it just requires common sense.

  7. watcher says:

    Thank god sam’s back….oops btw Ayn Rand says Jews make the best atheists…treating others as you wish to be treated doesn’t require faith

  8. BrowardVoter says:

    Just took the quiz – 15 out of 15!!!! I owe it all to the Noodly Goodness of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

  9. Lady Law says:

    Sam has got to lighten up. He is obsessed with religion.
    He needs to write about something more interesting like the judges or politics or sex.
    Maybe he doesn’t know anything about those subjects. From personal experience, I don’t believe he knows about the last one.

  10. sam's girlfriend says:

    dear lady law,
    you got that wrong!

  11. watcher says:

    girlfriend…TMI…we love him for his mind only

  12. Charlotte says:

    I am not an atheist, but an agnostic. I took that Pew poll and got a perfect score. I find that most bible thumping Christians I know haven’t even read the bible from front to back, they just listen to what is told to them from the pulpit and parrot it back. They often don’t know the history and context of the writing of the bible or about the time and society in which Jesus lived and preached. Religion is largely about manipulation of the masses.

  13. Chaz Stevens, Genius says:

    God is dead but thank Gawd my hair is perfect!

  14. augusta says:

    Dear Mr. Fields,
    With all due respect, your argument is built upon premises that are at best, ill informed, and at worst, deliberately misleading. You say that faith “starts with the final conclusion which is there is an all powerful God”.

    Wellactually only those who possess a monotheistic faith believe in a God. The faith of Hindus and Buddhists, among other devouted followers, do not revolve around a God-all powerful or not. Additionally, monotheists; including Jews, Muslims and Christians would poit their belief system to reflect more of a trust in an All Loving God ore so than an all powerful God. Do you not remember Rabbi Harold Kushner’s seminal work, “When Bad Things Happen to Good People”?

    True religious faith is not based on a hunch or magical thinking. It is not a form of wish fulfillment true faith is achieved after one asks the Important Questions oflife, and faith responds with the most sensible answers. I believe for instance in a loving God, because I have seen bounteous examples and expressions of love and compassion in this world. My faith affirms my experiences.

    Magical thikers are justthat- they are like addicts subsituting one’s dependency- latent or not- on booze, drugs, gambling sex, etc. with a god made in their own image.

    But let’s not confuse that with faith.

    And yup, I scored 15 out of 15.

  15. watcher says:

    augusta..if it works for you

  16. SAM FIELDS says:

    Dear “Dear Mr. Fields”
    I can’t figure out what you believe in. Your writing is totally confusing and contradictory.

    There is the “known” which is the “natural”. Then there is the “preternatural” which is not yet known and then there is the “supernatural” which can never be known (as distinguished from believed in).

    There is no demonstrable evidence of the third existing. For thousands of years the supernatural was offered as the explanation for everything from the sun to fire, disease, left-handedness, skin color, dead babies, etc, etc, etc.

    Since the dawn of the Enlightenment science has uniformly demolished this idea and replaced it with conclusions based on evidence.

    There is no reason to believe that this will change. But if it ever does I will be first to admit I am wrong. And don’t tell me that I won’t find out until I am standing at the Gates of Hell. That’s so intellectually childish.

    While science has not yet given all the answers it has excluded the supernatural as being a serious explanation so many times that only a fool or the weak would imagine that anyone should stay with an explanation that has been so consistently shown to be wrong.

    Yes, I acknowledge, as a another writer wrote, that many find comfort in believing in a god. It sounds like they are paraphrasing Marx’s observation that “religion is the opiate of the people.”

  17. augusta says:

    Dear Mr. Fields,
    Although your comments on the various strata of “natural” was spot on, let me simplify my response to your essay.

    1. Your premise is incorrect-Momothesists believe in an All Loving, not an All Powerful God.

    2. You reduce faith to magical vodoo thinking. For some, that may be true. For the educated, mature, reflective believer it is anything but-regardless of what you “believe”.

    Finally, religion and religious belief may indeed be the opiate of the people. But can you imagine the social anarchy that would exist if it wasn’t huffed?

  18. augusta says:

    Oh and Mr. Fields,

    With a faith in only yourself, you might already be living in Hell.

  19. SAM FIELDS says:

    Dear Augusta

    What a sad commentary you have about the human condition. People will only behave out of fear of eternal damnation?

    First of all it is not true. Social rules govern primates including people. We are now learning that they are in part genetic.

    But consider this. Not only are atheists better educated and more intelligent than the average person but they are far less likely to commit anti-social/criminal conduct.

    Although non-believers are between 10-15% of the population they account for only .3% of persons in prison.

    Every time I hear your argument I can only conclude that the speaker is dying to rob, rape and murder but is only being held back by the fear of eternal damnation.

    Is that you? If you loose your faith you fear becoming a malefactor? How sad.

  20. watcher says:

    faith is the same suspension of disbelief that makes watching si/fi movies fun…it’s the my god is better than your god stuff that screws things up

  21. augusta says:

    Dear Mr. Fields,

    And if you can’t scientifically prove something, it isn’t valid? Must be a sterile environ you live in. Maybe your thoughts on sex are equally illuminating?

  22. Augusta Right says:

    August is right because we can’t scientifically prove many things believed in, such as Evolution and the Big Bang.

  23. watcher says:

    omg…another chessmaster joins in

  24. Phony Sam Fields says:

    Religious belief is like love. It can not be scientifically proven.
    When your lover says he/she loves you, can you prove it scientifically? You must take it on FAITH based on your assessment of the relationship. Billions of people take it on FAITH that there is a higher power, based on their assessment of their surroundings and lives.

  25. Metacrock says:

    The examples I’ve seen indicate the questions were about theology nd history not Bible. Martin Luther is not in the Bible.

  26. watcher says:

    wouldnt it be wonderful Phoney Sam if religion was indeed like love…and faith unlike loved ones always proved to be the right answer

  27. alanis morrisette says:

    Isn’t it ironic , don’t you think that the ad above Sam Fields photo is for “Daily Bible Guide”. Only in America !!

  28. Whatever Sam says:

    Many atheists are the most dogmatic and might remember ancillary facts from the Bible but never seek to really understand what they’re against. They have childish and preconceived notions of the Bible that are laughable to anyone with minimal understanding of Biblical philosophy. Sam’s a perfect example of those kind of cultish anti-religionists. Sad to see that they won’t even learn the other side and dismiss it just like a racist dismisses anyone who challenges his narrow and false mindset.

  29. major penalty says:

    your religion is power and money. sam u r a train wreck.

  30. watcher says:

    we non-believers do recognize that there can be great truths to be found while suspending disbelief